THE Karnataka state committee of the CITU has organised a 16-day long state-wide jatha in defence of labour rights from July 29 to August 13, covering 30 districts of the state, travelling around 4,500 kilometres. The jatha began from Vidarashwatha on the banks of river Uttara Pinakini in Chikkaballapura district, which is the place of nine martyrs of freedom struggle who were shot dead by the British police on April 23, 1938 and also known as Jallianwalabagh of Karnataka. It ended at Kundapura of Udupi district, which is the land of Rani Abbakka who fought the Portuguese invaders till her last breath, in 1559.
The jatha propagated the slogan ‘Save labour rights for a prolific-united-harmonious Karnataka’ with a tag line ‘Save labour rights to strengthen labour rights’. The jatha was inaugurated by VJK Nair, state vice president of CITU at Vidarashwatha and A K Padmanabhan addressed it at Kolar Gold Fields. It culminated in an Independence Day eve night out dharna sathyagraha on August 14 at the Town Hall steps in Bangalore. CITU all India general secretary, Tapan Sen addressed the rally in the early hours on August 15 after unfurling of national flag. The satyagraha was inaugurated by retired judge of Supreme Court, Justice V Gopala Gowda and addressed by noted progressive thinkers and writers Dr G Ramakrishna, chairman of Kuvempu Basha Bharathi Authority, Dr K Maralisiddappa, Prof G K Govindrao, Dr Vijaya, chairperson of Kannada Book Authority, Dr Vasundara Bhoopathi, Dr N Gayathri, director of NSD, Bangalore, C Basavalingaiah, noted film director B Suresh and other noted personalities and CITU leaders. Night long satyagraha was attended by thousands of young workers and fervour of struggle was doubled by the revolutionary songs of Bhoomi Tayi Balaga cultural troupe.
The jatha was headed by a team comprising CITU state president S Varalakshmi, general secretary M S Meenakshi Sundaram, secretaries K N Umesh, B V Raghavendra and vice president Harish Nayak and covered the whole of 30 districts, with more than 50 organised meetings and hundreds of receptions at various places and street side addresses by the members of the jatha team. Along with the jatha team, a street play troupe consisting of SFI-DYFI activists staged ‘Niddeyu Namagila Edeleli’ - ‘Arise - No Sleep for Us’ on the lines of ‘Halla Bol’ of Janam, across the state at various places.
More than 15,000 workers participated in the meetings addressed by the jatha in total, while around 20,000 workers participated in total in more than 112 taluks in the night long satyagraha on August 14.
The jatha speeches focused about the anti-labour and anti- people policies of the Modi led BJP-NDA government at the centre and Siddaramaiah led congress government in the state. The state level jatha will be followed by local district level jathas in September first week and culminate in a state level rally ‘Maha Nade’ (Maha Padav) on September 14 in Bangalore.
The demands highlighted in the jatha are :
1. Common Minimum Wages of Rs18,000
2. Legislation for mandatory recognition of trade unions; for conferment of permanent status to workmen (for regularisation of contract, trainee and other non regular workers) and for general provident fund for unorganised workers.
3. Labour courts in all districts.
4. Housing for all houseless unorganised workers.
5. Scheme workers to be brought under minimum wages notification.
6. Social security fund for unorganised workers.
7. Organising of Tripartite Karnataka Labour Conference on par with Indian Labour Conference
8. Expansion and strengthening of public distribution system.
9. Stop strategic sale of BEML and other public sector units.
10. 10-point charter of JCTU demands.